Latest News – Dry Goods Delivery in time for Easter

We have just received a delivery of :-

Bonsai Pots – all shapes and sizes

Tools – we have the full range of Chinese and Japanese bonsai tools

Fertilisers – we stock the full range of Sumo bonsai products in all sizes

Compost – Akadama in 5 granular sizes, Bims, Keto, Kanuma, Small bags ready to use compost

Wire – all sizes of aluminium wire in small and large rolls

Why not pay us a visit or buy online!


Classroom Corner – Chris’s Juniper Ittogawa

An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.

Classroom Corner – Chris’s Juniper Ittogawa
Chris exhibited this small Juniper Ittogawa at Newstead 4 in September 2010. At all the Newstead exhibitions the visitors have been encouraged to vote for their favourite tree. This tree came third. Those of you who have been to a Newstead exhibition will be familiar with the number of high quality bonsai always on display and will really appreciate that third place for such a humble little tree is a tremendous achievement.
This composition was originally put together about 18 months previously. Chris had arrived at a workshop with a tub full of rocks and the juniper from our stock which we subsequently styled. They just work so well together and the rocky outcrop we created looks so natural.
I have several students like Chris who have really got into the stones and rocks, creating landscapes and planting trees on rocks. They have some great creations even if I do keep suggesting that they should attend a few sessions with “Rocks Anonymous!”
The tree arrived at one of my open workshops earlier this year. The tree had grown wider and was quite dense. So Chris had cleaned out the weaker interior shoots and was now undertaking a total rewire.
The tree was spreading too wide and losing it’s shape. We also needed to see more of the trunk which has good movement and taper.
You can see in the picture to the left that there is a very thick strong branch near the apex which is spoiling the triangular shape of the canopy and needs to be removed.
Once this has been removed the remainder of the canopy is wired and thinner branches are bent over to fill the space but the refinement of the apex is now much better. The remaining branches are much more in scale with the size of the tree.
The lowest branch was towards the rear of the tree and spreading too wide so this was removed and made into a jin.
An extra shari was then created linked to the jin but also to emphasize the twisting movement in the trunk and the contrast between the shari’s and the live vein.
The front of the tree was also changed slightly so that you can see more clearly the trunk line and the shari/live vein feature. The tree will be replanted in the new position in spring. The final picture is a computer generated image by Chris of what the tree will look like when this work is complete.
Finally a sweet little Juniper/rock combination is taken to it’s next level and unless Chris attends more “sessions” I suspect that “Rocky 2” is just around the corner! Watch this space as they say!!!

Memory Lane – Newstead One 2004 – A professional view (Part One)

Looking back….we can tell a tree’s story…..admire an image…..capture a moment…..remember a special event… inspired – to create a memory for tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy this regular peep into some of John’s bonsai history.

Memory Lane – Newstead One 2004 – A professional view (Part One)
We moved our bonsai nursery into Newstead in April 2003 and in September 2004 we undertook our first Newstead Bonsai Extravaganza.
I invited people from all over the country to submit their trees in addition to my own students. I was not disappointed. I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear or two as setting up was completed around 5.30 pm on the Friday. The resulting exhibition was greater than anything I could ever have dreamed of.
I could not believe what everyone had done for me. My team of students worked tirelessly to organise and supervise the event. The exhibitors trees were so much better than the pictures they submitted and the lengths they went to in order to display their trees at their best was truly amazing.
With total natural lighting throughout, a clean clear backdrop, and wide open spaces between the exhibition benches, there is no better way to display top quality bonsai. This exhibition raised the bar and set a high benchmark not only for us to follow but for all future bonsai exhibitions in this country.
We were very fortunate to have professional photographer Paul Goff of Bonsai Presentations with us over the weekend. Paul is a very talented artist in every sense of the word. Whether it be as a bonsai artist working on his trees, photographing them, or painting scrolls to help display them. His lectures on both bonsai photography and bonsai display are first class.
In both this and a subsequent blog we will feature some of Paul’s photographs taken over the weekend and remenisse about a wonderful bonsai event.
     I created a garden area especially for the weekend to display some of my own trees. It came with well stocked fish pond and a tea house containing the silhouette of a Japanese lady!!! Our first Newstead award trophy was created from a design based on my Taxus Cuspidata.
Demonstrations and workshops at this event were provided by my good friend Danny Use of Belgium assisted by Peter Foele.
Keep a look out for part two where we will feature some of Paul’s photographs of individual trees.

Topical Times – Update – Trees in past blogs finally repotted

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Update – Trees in past blogs finally repotted

For several weeks now we have been busy repotting trees in between classes and when the weather was not too cold. Some of the trees we have been working on were the subject of recent blogs so here is an update on some of those featured.

Memory Lane – Heathrow Bonsai Event Part One – Posted 28th December 2012






Memory Lane – Newstead Four – John’s Junipers – Posted 13 January 2013

This tree has not been repotted yet but I just received pictures from David Jones of Walsall Studio Ceramics of a pot he has made for the tree. I think it looks really good and can’t wait to see them together. I will keep you posted!






Studio Stories – Styled at last Part One – Posted 2nd January 2013






Studio Stories – Styled at last – Part Two – Posted 9th January 2013
















Studio Stories – Picea Pungens – Posted 19th January 2013






We repotted this tree but it sold almost immediately before I had chance to get these pictures together.

Topical Times – Pices Abies First Pruning – Posted 22nd January 2013


Apart from the Picea Pungens at the time of writing all the other trees are currently for sale on the nursery.

Studio Stories – Spruce Styling

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been really good I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Spruce Styling

This tree was selected from our stock of raw material for sale. It was basically old garden centre stock. A tree with some age to it and probably in the same pot for many years.

It has a dense canopy with far too many branches but the foliage is compact with small shoots and fine needles making it ideal for bonsai.






Starting from around the base I worked my way up the tree removing any dead and weak branches. The trunk divides into two so clearly one trunk line will have to be selected and the other one reduced for the creation of deadwood.






Having decided on the trunk line which gives us good taper and movement it is then a case of working through the remaining tree and making a selection of branches that we should be able to use.






A small shari at the base of the jins is used to emphasize the line of the live vein, improve taper and movement, and enhance the contrast between the live vein and the deadwood.

The tree is now ready for wiring and then styling.






The tree was recently repotted into a ceramic bonsai pot and some extra trunk was uncovered. I think the extra height suits the tree and lightens the image.

It never ceases to amaze how you can remove 60/70% of the foliage and still finish up with a tree that’s almost as big as what you started with……….another one of life’s little mysteries!……….




Classroom Corner – March Open Workshop – Two Taxus

An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.

Classroom Corner – March Open Workshop – Two Taxus
Students can bring any number of any variety of tree to open workshops for all types of advice and work. During March the two Taxus featured in this article appeared on separate classes.
This Taxus Cuspidata was originally imported from Korea. It has good taper and trunk movement but is too “busy”……there are too many branches. The answer???……. easy …….remove some!!! It’s always easy when it’s not your tree!
The tree was now ready for wiring and a definite branch structure was beginning to emerge. You can then begin to appreciate where the future development will be and how the final outline of the tree will emerge.
As the tree puts on new growth further branches will need to be removed as the canopy will again become too dense. The tree will also be much healthier now more light and air can penetrate the foliage areas.
This Taxus Baccata was taken from a garden hedge when the house had to be demolished. After a dramatic workshop styling several years ago the tree had initially put on a lot of growth but in recent years had been struggling. A substantial lower right hand branch had died and been removed adding more deadwood to the trunk.
The tree was about to be repotted but when I checked the rootball there was a hole below the trunk area and evidence of dead/decaying roots.
So we decided to repot this tree “inside-out”….we would leave the outside of the rootball intact and untouched. The soil in the centre of the rootball would be completely removed and replaced with a mixture of 50/50 akadama/bims( a river gravel from Germany) using a larger size particle for both ingredients.
The tree would be allowed to recover and generally grow unchecked for this season. Eventually when the tree is next repotted it should be possible to carry out this task in the normal manner.

Memory Lane – Christchurch Club Exhibition, New Zealand 2009

Looking back….we can tell a tree’s story…..admire an image…..capture a moment…..remember a special event… inspired – to create a memory for tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy this regular peep into some of John’s bonsai history.

Memory Lane – Christchurch Club Exhibition, New Zealand 2009
An earlier post illustrated New Zealand’s first National Bonsai Exhibition. At the side of this was an exhibition of trees belonging to members of the Christchurch Club who hosted the weekend convention.
In addition to judging the National Exhibition I was also asked to judge the club displays. It was a real pleasure to be able to talk to enthusiasts on the other side of the world about their trees.
They don’t have access to imported material like we do so many of their trees were created from seeds or cuttings…….a tremendous achievement.
The pictures below are a selection of some of the trees on display.

Topical Times – Beginners Two Sunday 3rd March

A regular update on the life and times of John Hanby’s Newstead Bonsai Centre……..

Topical Times – Beginners Two Sunday 3rd March

Having attended Beginners One earlier in the year 5 students returned for the Part Two day course on Sunday 3rd March.

Basically Part Two involved the students selecting a piece of raw material from our stock and spending most of the day wiring and styling the tree to create their very own bonsai. Once this work was completed the practicalities of watering, feeding, position, and pests/diseases was discussed.

This really is a great “hands-on” day for the beginners tackling wiring and deadwood creation for the first time. I am there to help with the styling whilst my trusted, experienced helpers……Len, Derek and Ian are on hand to supervise and help with the wiring.

Possible styles for each tree are discussed and the student then makes their decision. I remove everything I think we won’t need and then they wire all that is left.

Students have a free hand in choosing their material and have the option to purchase it at the end of the day (but without any obligation whatsoever). A successful outcome is guaranteed because if they decide not to buy it I still have to sell it. When you look at the finished product you will understand that it would be much better for me if they didn’t take it home!!!

Unfortunately this hardly ever seems to happen. With our help their first attempt really is a tremendous achievement. I look forward to working with them and their trees again in the forseeable future.























Latest News – Extra classes and Price reductions (Updated 25th March))

Prices reduced……on all Japanese carbon and stainless bonsai tools while stocks last. Please check out our online store.

Extra classes added in May…….Sunday 19th Open workshop, Wednesday 22nd Midweek workshop, Saturday 25th Open workshop.

Availability on March/April Classes…….at the time of writing we only have the following places available………..

Maples one Sat 16th March……….1 place (was Sunday now Saturday)

Midweek workshop Wed 20th March……Sold Out

Pines one Sun 24th March……….2 places

Junipers One Sat 30th March…….cancellation 1 place available

Open workshop Sun 31st March……Sold Out

Open workshop Sat 6th April………..Sold Out

Junipers one Sat 13th April…………3 places (was Sunday now Saturday)

Open workshop Sat 20th April……..Sold Out

Open workshop Sun 28th April……..Sold Out

All other classes are currently sold out. I can take extra numbers on Beginners two in April. If you are interested in any of these other classes contact us to be placed as a reserve for if we get any late cancellations.

Bonsai galleries….Picture of the day……new picture added every day……check it out!

Studio Stories – Cork Bark Elm…Salvage Operation

Sometimes I work on nursery trees, sometimes I work on client’s trees……and sometimes if I’ve been really good I get to work on my own trees. Hopefully these regular visits will give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors……….

Studio Stories – Cork Bark Elm…Salvage Operation

This Cork Bark Elm was acquired in a batch of trees in 2007. It had originated in Japan and had clearly seen better days. Over the years it had obviously lost several major branches, their former positions now clearly marked with dead stumps.

In it’s prime this had been an impressive tree but sadly it would now be difficult to sell even at a reduced price.


Two years passed by and as expected the tree was still for sale. So in March 2009 I decided to implement drastic measures to try and salvage our investment in this tree. I decided to try and have several sound smaller more saleable trees rather than the one large damaged tree.


Having identified three potential air layers they were ring barked at the appropriate points where I wanted to create new root systems.

The cambium layer was removed in these areas and then they were treated with a rooting hormone. The stripped areas were then covered with sphagnum moss and wrapped in clear plastic which was further covered with a black plastic bag.


On the 3rd July the outer black plastic was removed and strong new roots were clearly visible in all three plastic bags.






All three air layers were removed and potted into terracotta training pots using a compost of chopped sphagnum moss mixed with akadama.











In March 2010 the stump of the original tree was pruned back and repotted at a more appropriate angle into a terracotta training pot. The compost used was 3 parts akadama to 1 part bims (a river gravel from Germany).






In February 2011 the potted air layers had put on plenty of growth and roots so they were repotted into bonsai pots. You can see what remains of the stump where they were cut from the tree.











The first two smaller air layers have now been sold so some money has been reclaimed on our investment.

The third air layer has been retained for further refinement. The long extension on the branch to the rear is to help fatten it up. This tree has really excellent potential to make a very good mature shohin bonsai.

The original stump has also been further refined and this week the planting angle was adjusted some more when the tree was repotted into a bonsai pot. This tree can make a powerful small stocky bonsai with deadwood that could be hollowed out if required.






I feel this salvage operation has been really worthwhile. The tree as it was could never have been returned to it’s former glory and would probably never have sold in the condition it was in. I have been able to create 4 nice saleable trees from the material…..two have been sold and potentially the best two remain. I may even finish up making a profit on the project but more importantly a proud old tree can now hold it’s head up high again (………in more than one place and at the same time…… that’s magic!!! )